Drink iced tea, you will. That’s what Lipton Brisk hopes will happen as its latest ad campaign, it unveils.
Pepsi’s premiere iced tea brand is banking on Star Wars to build on the success of last year’s Eminem-centered Super Bowl spot, with a promotion pegged to February’s 3-D release of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. More than just a series of ads, though, this initiative includes product repackaging, promotions, and the just-launched Brisksaber mobile game app.
"What really attracted us to Lucasfilms is, of course, it’s arguably the largest entertainment franchise in the world, constantly keeping itself fresh through cinema and TV and gaming and being on the forefront of technology," says Eric Fuller, Brisk brand director. "We just felt they were really in sync with us, so we actually were the first to contact them."
While purists may balk at seeing the fearsome Darth Maul and quietly noble Yoda reduced to the giant head/tiny body Claymation of Brisk’s ads, they’re bound to be outnumbered by Star Wars fans who appreciate seeing their beloved franchise take a gentle ribbing. ("Too old for this, I’m getting," Yoda says at one point.)
Brisk’s signature animated ads debuted in the late 1990s with spots featuring the likes of Frank Sinatra, and was revived in early 2011 with web films centered around Danny Trejo and Ozzy Osbourne, both renowned for achievements in the field of badassery. With the new ads, though, the signature has been tweaked.
"Traditionally Brisk’s animation style is stop-motion, so we would create these very complex puppets that were essentially metal armatures wrapped in silicon," explains Ian Kovilik, creative director at Mekanism, who handles most of Brisk’s ads. "But this year, because of the complexity of the campaign, we wanted to rethink the process. We decided to make it more efficient so we could put out more ads more quickly."
The new ads are done entirely in CG, applying the familiar geometry and texture into the digital world. In order to make the CG look as much like stop-motion as possible, the team at Mekanism, which includes eight animators, even digitally inserted minor imperfections for an authentic look. Aside from the difference in animation, another big change is that while Brisk is still producing the familiar big, splashy TV spot, this time it’s in support of an app.
"We’ve really focused a lot of our effort online through Facebook. Not just building numbers, but really engaging with the community," Fuller says of Brisk’s 970,000-strong Facebook audience. "It really is about speaking to fans in the appropriate way, making sure their voices are heard, constantly keeping them entertained, and providing them content that’s fresh and funny, since that’s what really resonates. We’re hoping that all comes across in the app."
Brisksaber is a custom app, in the style of Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds. It was developed by San Francisco-based Flying Wisdom Studios, and available on the Android and Apple marketplaces. Users can play a dueling game as either the light side or the dark side, and keep track of how they’re doing on a constantly updated leaderboard on Facebook. The game will continue to evolve, however, as more people play it.
It’s a process known as banking codes. Lipton Brisk has placed unique codes on 60 million bottles of iced tea distributed to stores. As consumers enter more of these in aggregate on Facebook or uncaptheapp.com, these open content on the game, unlocking more iconic Star Wars characters, vehicles, and lightsabers. "I think one of the coolest lightsabers is Yoda’s, which is actually a easter egg that’s hidden in the TV spot," Kovilik says. Yoda’s lightsaber can be opened by one of three special codes in the ad. Fittingly enough for something called the Brisksaber app, one of these hidden codes is for a Brisksaber, which looks like Obi Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber, except the blade has a multi-colored rainbow effect.
If the app ends up going over as well as Lipton Brisk hopes, expect to see an attack of the clones from competitors next year.